Old-Time Radio (OTR) and the Golden Age of Radio refer to a period of radio programming lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television’s replacement of radio as the dominant home entertainment medium in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, when radio was dominant and the airwaves were filled with a variety of radio formats and genres, people regularly tuned in to their favorite radio programs. In fact, according to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners. The end of this period coincided with music radio becoming the dominant radio form and is often marked in the United States by the final CBS broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar on September 30, 1962.

During the Golden Age of Radio, radio featured genres and formats popular in other forms of American entertainment—adventure, comedy, drama, horror, mystery, musical variety, romance, thrillers—along with classical music concerts, big band remotes, farm reports, news and commentary, panel discussions, quiz shows, sidewalk interviews, sports broadcasts, talent shows and weather forecasts.

In the beginning of the Golden Age, American radio network programs were presented almost exclusively live, since the national networks prohibited the airing of recorded programs until the late 1940s. As a result, prime-time shows would be performed twice for both coasts. However, some programs were recorded as they were broadcast during this period, typically for syndicated programs or for advertisers to have their own copy. When the networks became more open to airing recorded programs in the 1950s and 1960s, recordings became more common.


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